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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 19, 2010 8:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Late to the Phish party here, what with being just back from the boonies (which, given where I live, definitely means no internet), so I'm posting this separately ... and also cuz I think the thread raises other questions on what made the Dead the Dead.

Skuzzlebutt mentioned Phish's lack of "stickiness," which is an interesting way of putting it, and true for me, too. I've also thought of it as a lack of edginess. A lack of soul, but also a lack of push, depth, and drive.

So, what IS it that the Dead had that other bands have just not been able to replicate? A lot of times, the discussion seems to focus on the musicians. But there are other great musicians.

To what extent was it also the times? Perhaps you just can't replicate being a band that emerged from the 60s. The Real 60s, and not the tie-dyed stereotype. And maybe that's part of the problem with replication.

What made the Dead the Dead wasn't just jamming and Jerry. It was also the acid tests (which, from what I've read, were not full of smiling tie-dyed people with flowers); the individual musicians and songwriters plus the acid tests; the individuals plus their own musical and literary influences plus the aftermath and fallout of the 60s; all of the above plus the sense that no one knew what was coming and the world was changing and everything was open and, at the same time, going over a cliff ...

Heck, I was a kid, and even I remember that feeling. Electric instruments were utterly new. Long hair and ragtag pseudo-Indian clothing was new and shocking. How can that sort of scary, exciting, the-revolution-is-just-around-the-corner kind of wildness be replicated? Musically, it wouldn't have just meant the freedom to jam. It would be the freedom to toss anything into the pot -- blues, jazz, electric music, acid-influenced whateverness, dogs and kids onstage, the janitor having a say in business decisions, the "group mind" -- and just see what emerged. Without a recipe.

And that might be the crux of it. Without a recipe. Because now, the Dead themselves are a recipe.

The Dead are honey fresh from the hive, with all the little chunky waxy bits and maybe a few crystallized bee guts in there. Phish is Splenda.

Ever had a banana fresh from the tree? Kind of misshapen, a bit stumpy, brown and mottled, with the most amazing sweet taste you could imagine? That's the Dead. Phish are the bananas you get at Safeway. There's a memory of a banana in there, but trust me, there's no comparison.

I, too, have tried to like Phish (and am willing to be convinced. Really.) Maybe part of the issue is that I've never seen them live. But every time I've tried to listen to them, I just get reminded of how good the Dead were.

I did hear some music once at a camping store that really intrigued me, and when I asked about it, the clerk said it was Phish. So maybe, if I came at unexpectedly, I'd enjoy it. Though in listening to various bands, I actually think that what I heard was String Cheese Incident. Which also, from what I've heard, suffers from the Lack of Edginess problem, though I do find them more engaging than Phish.

On the whole, that's my problem with enjoying ALL the jam bands I've heard. They're kind of ... Splenda. It just reminds me of the real thing, minus the X Factor. Nice background music, and some better than others, but close up? Meh. Maybe that's why I'd rather hear, for instance, bluegrass or jazz or just Something Completely Different.

I'd like to think that a jam band with great musicians and a Hunter-quality songwriter COULD emerge who might be as good as the Dead. But then, sigh, there's that little matter of The Times. Could there be a Tchaikovsky now? A John Wayne? A George Eliot? A Willem De Kooning?

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Or, given the time difference, my rant for the night.

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming. Like waking up my teenager. Hmmm, I could blast some Pigpen at him ... bay-EEEEEE-beeee!



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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Oct 19, 2010 10:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

I hope you packed enough sari's AR . Good food ?

Everything about the gestation of the GD and the cultural context they were born from was folklore by my time . There were echos and glimpses , sometimes a gaze at the fire that lit up the night in hundreds of fields , campi , halls , theaters , arenas and stadiums across America and beyond for decades .
I am near ruined for most other 'rock' music by this band . It all seems trite and silly in caparison . There was an unknown and sometimes a fear that came from their music . As someone said (who?) , they were the last circus you could run off to in America . And it was chance , it could go either way .
Here we are 45 years later , over 2 generations , on this ride and it seems to be chugging along in spite of ourselves ( collectively , including the band ) , certain tragedies of the past or frankly the loss of Garcia which took a piece from everyone's heart . We are all playing with house money now , on IA , LMA , Furthur and all the spin-offs . Easy St. is a pretty cool place .

"Could there be a Tchaikovsky now? A John Wayne? A George Eliot? A Willem De Kooning?"
I think there is always transformational art being created . We just don't know about it , don't like it or can't understand it .
I would be happy with a Pops , Charlton Heston , C.S. Lewis and Kandinsky combo .

Welcome back

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 19, 2010 11:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Thanks, Micah. Yup, lots of good fresh bananas :-)

LOL, I was pretty much ruined for other rock bands after I started seeing the Dead, too. The shows seemed boring and rather pointless. And hey, where was the dancing?!? I seriously stopped going to rock concerts much. Festivals or clubs or small intimate venues, yes, but rock concerts .... nah.

>Could there be a Tchaikovsky now? A John Wayne? A George Eliot? A Willem De Kooning?" I think there is always transformational art being created . We just don't know about it , don't like it or can't understand it .

Yes, of course, but what I meant was there couldn't be, literally, a Tchaikovsky now. Because he was produced partly by his times. The times that created a Tchaikovsky wouldn't have produced a Bach. And someone copying Bach in the 1880s would have been a pale reflection.

I do hope the Dead go into the mix of whatever is the transformational art of our times, in some way or another; though honestly, I think we're in a bit of a Sargasso Sea, musically. This isn't a great musical moment, broadly speaking, like the time that gave birth to the Dead. Though there are terrific musicians, of course.

Ditto the visual arts, btw. The 1950s were very rich, for instance; now, not so much. Undoubtedly other great moments will emerge. I'm not being all crotchety and curmudgeonly -- or at least, I don't think so -- just taking the broad view. This may end up being a great, rich, transformational moment for digital media, with YouTube etc. (With, of course, Cliff's masterpiece leading the way :-) ) Seriously, I do think independent, outside-the-big-commercial-realm production is where the energy is. Probably musically as well.




This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2010-10-20 06:27:34

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Very nicely said, I couldn't agree more: the Dead are the naturally evaporated cane juice to Phish's high-fructose corn syrup ...

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

AR - Not sure where you are located, but if you are anywhere close to hampton, VA you should come catch one or both nights of the Cheese's Hulaween show.

I'm not in any way suggesting that they put on the same kind of show, with the same kind of energy and vibe that the Dead did. But in that regard they are much, much closer to the Dead than they are to Phish. I may be a bit favorably biased since I have been following them since '98 and have become friends with them over the years.

I do know they put on a helluva show, the crowd is fun, the lot is fun and they are damn fine musicians in their own right. And you can definitely hear the Dead's influence in some of their material - from time to time they will cover Franklin's and Shakedown and whenever you can hear a Colorado, mountain bluegrass hippie interpretation it's a lot of fun.

Holler if you can make it - I think there are a couple of our fellow forumvia making the trip. I'm up for a get together with whoever can make it. whirlwind? SDH? My daughter is going with me so you can see her world famous eye rolls at her father's hijinks.

mandojamr at yahooooooooooooooooo daught comm for offline contact

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

She's literally closer to Timbukto and Katmandu!

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

I just pulled that from Arb's biking thread - prolly gonna be tough to make the trip to Hampton.

I just got mixed news from my orthopod - I did a 9.2 mile circuit hike of Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park last weekend - 2200 feet up and 2200 feet down. Knee held up very well. I ran for the first time since the surgery 18 months ago and the protest was immediate so my sawbones simply said "Don't run, you can't without reinjuring the knee."

Putting road tires on the mountain bike this weekend and contemplating the 15.7 mile ride to work several times a week.

A new phase of mortality recognition begins.......

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 20, 2010 11:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Cool; yeah, I've been struggling with it for sometime ("recognition"). Lovely hearing from UJ that some knees have been "recalled" (NO frickin way!).

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 20, 2010 11:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

LOL, that would be a bit far. (Timbuktu, WT? Well, I guess Mali is closer to me than Virginia!) Of course, if String Cheese Incident did just happen to feel like an Asian tour, which of course would not be complete without Kathmandu, I would most assuredly go. And they should do it, of course. Cultural outreach and all.

Certainly Furthur won't be coming around. Though I have friends who insist that I need not give up hope of seeing them, cuz it would be "just like them" to perform in Kathmandu ... but let's just say these aren't particularly Deadhead friends or, um, I don't exactly think they'd have said that. Though Bob did go to the Ganges with those ashes ...

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Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Oct 19, 2010 10:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

"So, what IS it that the Dead had that other bands have just not been able to replicate?" ......Jerry of course!

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.

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Poster: Hal R Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Magic!

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 19, 2010 10:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Cool rant. I wish I had had a mom who woke me up with Pigpen. I totally buy your view. I would also toss into the mix that the Dead and us folks of a certain age were a product of the musical time too. That folkie/C&W/R&R sensibility. I've often thought that's why I don't like as much the harder-edged material from the late 70s and into the 80s-think Lazy Lightning/Sailor/Picasso Moons. And why Lazy River Road, Standing on the Moon, and Days Between felt like a 'return to form'. And why I can't connect with Phish - their sensibility reflects a different time. BTW - I can't even get the space to listen to all the Dead shows I would like to.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 19, 2010 11:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

I'm OK with Lazy Lightning/Sailor, though I think of them, actually, as softer-edged (in a mid-to-late 70s way) rather than hard-edged. (I think of Picasso Moon as little as possible.) I wouldn't call them genius in action, but they also don't seem like cases of trying too hard while floundering, which seemed to be the case later, once Hunter's muse took a vacation, with Barlow's tagging along for the duration.

Yeah, I do think later there was a return to form (also with Black Muddy River) ... or a return of the muse. Or perhaps a recognition that it's OK to be who you are and not TRY to be "of the times" (which I think was the case with, say, Hell in a Bucket.) Being "of the times" isn't something you can try to be, any more than a band can try to be "like the Dead." (Unless it's a tribute band, which is a whole other deal.)

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Boy, I may be starting trouble here, but when I think of the boys trying to be "of the times" I think of Shakedown Street - and then Workingman's Dead.

I think of Hell In A Bucket as more of a goof - high rock'n'roll comedy - and as much as many of us (including me) may love the funky thing that Shakedown became live, it's impossible to deny that the single was a pander to late-70's disco-dominated radio (The Kinks "Superman" was released the same year, or maybe a year later; different band, same concept).

Workingman's Dead and American Beauty did not appear out of a vacuum, and while it may be apparent that the folksy/ acoustic route was a completely natural progression for the GD, given everybody's musical backgrounds, it's also exactly what was happening in pop in 1970. They weren't exactly bucking musical trends.

OK let me have it.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 20, 2010 6:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Oh, definitely. But I'd actually distinguish between being "of the times" in a natural way because it fits who you are (generationally, inclination-wise, etc) -- e.g., WD was influenced by the times but also very much part-and-parcel -- and TRYING to be "of the times" in a catching-up, trying-too-hard, not-really-fitting kind of way.

I totally agree on Shakedown, as I've said here before! It quick evolved into something terrific and very Dead-ish, but yeah, if you want the most egregious and obvious example of running misguidedly after a misunderstood version of the times, that's certainly it. But I guess the muse was still so alive at that time that it tamed Disco Dead in the cradle and whipped it into proper shape :-)

Btw I agree Hell in the Bucket was kind of a goof, lyrics-wise, but musically speaking, it just sounds so ... early 80s pop-rock to me. Blandly rockin' a la the Pretenders or something. Maybe that's just me. I don't HATE it, but it's kind of C-grade, and I often skip it, along with a few others of that era.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 20, 2010 11:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

You're absolutely right, F80; I've said this a few times...EG, byrds et al. were direct impact on the DEAD to see that a "return to their roots" was now more acceptable...sounds like a sell out, but I think they were just willing to give and take, and say "hey, look what so and so's doing...we can do it that too". Phil talks about how current songs would influence him, at least early on. I think there's plenty of what they did that was unique, but I won't for a minute defend that it was PRIMARY. They blew with the times like everyone. Complete counter culture is often just pure nonsense.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 20, 2010 6:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

I agree; it's just a question of what one *likes*. If we like what's happening in pop culture, we don't complain about anyone selling out out to pop culture. Disco sucked, basically. But the Dead weren't selling out to disco any more than they had "sold out" to folk, blues etc.

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Poster: BataviaSparky Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda-why rip on Picasso?

why rip on Picasso? I always thought the song gave Jerry a chance to show off some hot licks! He shreads most of the versions I've heard. Yeah, its not a tune that can really be improvised with or stretched out, but it was never really a clunker. IMO.
Also, Bobby belts out the vocal, and I like that part.

"I GUESS IT DOESN'T MATTER!"

Hell yeah!

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Poster: user unknown Date: Oct 20, 2010 4:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

"The Dead are honey fresh from the hive, with all the little chunky waxy bits and maybe a few crystallized bee guts in there."

and Railroad Earth are raw cane sugar

just listen to the '04 Jerry's Birthday Bash

http://www.archive.org/details/rre2004-08-07.dsbd.shnf

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 20, 2010 6:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Hey Kiddo--sometimes your writing reminds me of "me"...somehow this one really did. Of course, that's probably just cause I agree.

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Poster: IT Expert Date: Oct 20, 2010 8:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

me too ;)

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Poster: jackstraw86 Date: Oct 20, 2010 9:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Wow. All I can say is that this thread is EXACTLY why I come to the forum. Circumstances have presented themselves in such a way that I can't spend as much time here as I used to but this is a great discussion. It renews my faith in what binds us together. Nice job folks!

Whoooooooooooooooooo Hoooooooooooooooooo!

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Poster: pdm59 Date: Oct 20, 2010 10:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

What makes the Dead the Dead is the music. The times, musicians, influences, and chemicals all combine, create and coalesce into the band.
The bottom line is that the music plugs into my mind/soul. It is electric (even when acoustic), comforting, uplifting and as pointed out in this thread (I think) scary.

A little help please. I am doing something wrong as I wish to add this reply to the ongoing thread but I end up with an individual post. Where am I going wrong?

Nevermind.

This post was modified by pdm59 on 2010-10-21 05:39:29

This post was modified by pdm59 on 2010-10-21 05:47:33

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Poster: Daddy D Date: Oct 23, 2010 1:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

Mica6vs8: I believe it was the man himself (Jerry) who, when asked in an interview to explain the popularity of the Grateful Dead, said that going on tour & following the band from show to show across the country was one of the few "adventures" still available to young people. Hitchhiking, jumping trains & riding the rails were all too dangerous, but going on tour was the closest kids could get to joining the circus. Or something to that effect I think.

Here's an interesting question:

Suppose that the boys were actually born around 1990 & all met up & created a band just like they did in the 60's. Would (could?) the music they'd create today be anywhere near as good as what they actually did create? My point is this:

As others have already alluded to, words & music are not created in a vacuum, & certainly the times & environment they (the Dead) were living in had an affect upon what they created.

I wasn't born until 68, so perhaps am not qualified to comment, but weren't the 60's & early 70's a unique era in terms of many different things all happening simultaneously? Free love, the beatnik & hippie movements, widespread psychedelic drug experimentation, war, politics, race issues, acid tests, etc., plus so many seminal bands & musicians bursting onto the scene all at once . . .

I've got to think the times they were living in certainly played a big part in how & why they were able to do what they did.

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Oct 23, 2010 3:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Dead Weren't Splenda

I was born in '68 too .
I would trade in all my shows '87-95 for some '68 . I have many fav years from the first decade of GD .
I agree art is always informed by context . But , many of the great ones can see beyond their own time and place .
And you are right . We did have an explosion of music in the late 20th century . I wonder what we have , if anything , now ?